Aspire Public Schools and the San Francisco Unified School District both use a new teachers preparation program that has earned high marks for teacher retention, according to a new report by the American Institute for Research.
The report, “A Million New Teachers are Coming: Will they be Ready to Teach?” found that 82 percent of teachers who were trained by Urban Teacher Residency United, which partners with both San Francisco Unified and Aspire, the charter school organization that has 36 schools in California, were still teaching after five years on the job.
Two of the key reasons that teachers who are trained through Urban Teacher Residency United remain in the profession are tied to the program’s highly selective requirements for applicants and extensive student teaching time in the classroom, the report said.
Urban Teacher Residency United, a Chicago-based nonprofit, only allows 11 percent of applicants into its program. Those teachers spend an entire academic year in the classroom with a mentor teacher, while pursuing masters-level course work toward a degree in the evening, the report said.
In contrast, the report noted, while Teach for America, another teacher training program, also is selective – it only accepts 12 percent of applicants to its program – its would-be teachers are provided with four weeks of student teaching in the classroom. That short amount of time in the classroom, said the report, may be one reason why only 28 percent of the program’s teachers remain in the profession after five years.
The report, which surveyed the research literature related to retention of new teachers, found a lack of commonality among course offerings of teacher preparation programs, widely varying criteria for selecting teacher preparation school applicants, differences in the amount of time student teachers spent in the classroom and the absence of rigorous teacher licensing requirements in many areas.
In order to prepare to train and hire more than a million new teachers over the next decade, the report made a number of suggestions to policy makers and teacher training programs, including the following:
- Build consensus among teacher preparation programs about what new teachers need to know before they enter the classroom.
- States should increase the amount of time required for student teaching and provide professional development for teachers who mentor them.
- States should use newer, more practice-focused licensure assessments, which are more rigorous tests than those used in many states.